The Freak Is Alive

Written by: MN on 06/09/2015 23:50:39

Back to the writing desk after a longer period of inactivity, I find myself shaking off the cobwebs with Momentum's "The Freak Is Alive". The Icelandic trio is not exactly a household name on the metal scene, but their first full length, "Fixation, At Rest" was a brilliant record, which showcased how far Momentum have come from being a one-man black metal project to becoming a convention-thrashing beast. This band has its roots in the unsettling melancholy of the "icy" north, but measures of doom and psychedelic elements make for a more holistic and enthralling listening experience. "The Freak Is Alive" spent numerous months on my playlist, but it is only now I dare share my verdict of this complex record.

"The Freak Is Alive" is opened by the heavy hitter "Bury The Eyes Once Gold" which initially leads your mind to more atmospheric black and death artists such as Septic Flesh or Stormlord. Eventually, the atmospheric, layered riffs are accompanied by howling synths and multi-harmonised scream vocals, which oddly reminds me of late 80's anime soundtracks, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Apart from the full-bodied screams, the clean vocals supplied by Holaf are mostly performed in baritone and tenor pitches, it occasionally reminds me of Sully Erna of Godsmack. "Between Two Worlds" is a slow and brooding song that starts off somewhat lukewarm, but eventually gains some "momentum" (no pun intended) throughout the catchy chorus and resolution of the song.

A true highlight and eye-opener is the almost folksy "Familiar Unknown" where Holaf supplies multilayered baritone vocals that remind you of an aged brandy, self-assured and full of complexity. This is also one of the songs that diverge from the otherwise gloomy mood that characterizes the entire record, something that proves to be their Achilles' heel in an otherwise strong record. "Gauntlet" is one of the absolute strongest tracks that seems to lend inspiration from both Neurosis and Amorphis. The occasional piano-keys that riddle the track, and the quirky sitar playing, along with the tribal drumming, are all welcoming additions to this clearly ambitious track.

"The Freak Is Alive" continues the Indian jungle rhythms, where the rhythmic section is allowed to create some eclectic patterns somewhat reminiscent of a drum & bass track, fast and variegated. As mentioned earlier, despite the clearly driven and well-thought out approach, the established mood unfortunately starts to get a bit dreary and some variation in pace and mood would be most welcome. That being said, tracks like "A Beast Is Near" should be as unsettling and misanthropic as it is performed for maximum effect. "Creators Of Malignant Metaphors" is probably the strongest lyrical and vocal performance, another highlight of the record which stays with you.

Momentum is a new discovery of mine and I am constantly astounded by the amount of great bands coming out of a nation of a mere 320,000 inhabitants. This band has inclined me to explore in more depth, the small but perhaps potent metal scene of the island country. Momentum is atmospheric and slow-winded, definitely for fans of sludge/doom, but also interesting to fans of post rock/metal. Definitely worth a listen.


Download: Gauntlet, The Freak Is Alive, Familiar Unknown
For The Fans Of: Isis, Cult Of Luna, Pelican

Release date 09.02.2015
Dark Essence Records

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